Rising Coaches Elite

Personal development key aspect of sixth annual Rising Coaches Elite conference

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For young staffers within college basketball figuring out the road to a coaching position can be a difficult task, with aspects such as connections and finding a spot where they can grow and succeed being of utmost importance. That’s where Rising Coaches Elite, which was founded by Andy Farrell (now an assistant at Southwest Mississippi CC), Adam Gordon (director of basketball ops at Southeast Missouri State) and Trey Meyer (assistant at Miami University) six years ago, comes into play.

The three creators, who have been in that very position themselves in their young careers, put together the program in hopes of helping the video coordinators, directors of basketball operations, graduate assistants, and managers with areas such as networking and how to best go about working their way up the coaching ladder. And with Chris Hollender (UMKC) and Brandon Rosenthal (Santa Clara) taking on greater roles in recent years, the organization has enhanced its ability to help to those looking to do so.

The centerpiece of this process is the organization’s annual conference in Las Vegas, which this year is scheduled for July 21-23.

And while Rising Coaches Elite has undoubtedly helped attendees gain the knowledge needed to move forward, with more than 80 attendees having received promotions within college basketball since the program began, it’s also served as a learning experience for the organizers. With that in mind, this year’s event will pay even more attention to the personal development aspect of young coaches’ careers, which is every bit as important as the coaching.

“One of the areas that we’ve heard a lot of feedback on, when it comes to helping guys in the field, is personal development,” Farrell, now an assistant at Southwest Mississippi CC, told NBCSports.com earlier this week. “Whereas in the past our focus was primarily on coaching, now we’re going to spend some more time on personal development.

“We’re bringing in someone to talk about resumes, a financial manager to talk about saving money when the time comes and how to do so appropriately because this profession is unpredictable.”

When it comes to the aspect of putting away money, that will be difficult for those who are just starting off in their coaching journey. But it never hurts to plant that seed, showing attendees “what has and what hasn’t worked” with Farrell also noting just how important things away from the court can be for those looking to establish themselves within the coaching ranks.

Of course there will still be plenty of conversations regarding the coaching industry, with a number of Division I head and assistant coaches expected to speak at the event. Among those who have already committed to doing so this time around are California head coach Cuonzo Martin, UCLA assistant David Grace and New Mexico associate head coach Chris Harriman, with others being determined as they finalize their schedules for the final evaluation period of the summer.

Those speakers join a list of coaches including new VCU head coach Will Wade, Purdue’s Matt Painter and SMU’s Larry Brown who have spent time at Rising Coaches Elite in the past. But while those presenters possess titles that the attendees will want to earn one day, one of the goals for this event is to stress just how important “fit” is regardless of the position. Being in the right situation when it comes to the people they’re working for, and with, should of great importance for those who hope to make a career out of coaching.

“I think that’s a good way of putting it,” Farrell said. “Don’t get caught up in labels; work for a good person and do your job really well, and everything’s going to take care of itself.”

For coaches looking to sign up for this year’s event, information can be found here.

Rising Coaches Elite preparing for fifth annual conference July 22-24

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It goes without saying that the month of July is an important one for college basketball programs. With there being three five-day open recruiting periods, coaches are traveling the country to keep tabs on prospects they’ve already been following while also learning more about those who they may not have seen during the high school season and the lone open period of the spring (late April).

This is also an important time for current players, as many are going through summer school while also being put through the paces by their program’s strength and conditioning staff in preparation for the upcoming year. Support staff members, including graduate assistants and managers, can’t be forgotten either during July for two reasons.

First of all, they can help keep an eye on things in the office while the head coach and his assistants are on the road recruiting. And secondly the added knowledge they pick up working camps and attending seminars can prove beneficial not only to the staffer from a career advancement standpoint, but also in regards to making them a more valuable member of their current program.

Later this month Rising Coaches Elite, a program founded by three former Clemson staffers (former Longwood assistant Andy Farrell, current Mississippi State director of basketball operations Adam Gordon and current Miami University assistant Trey Meyer), will hold its fifth annual conference from July 22-24 in Las Vegas. The location helps in that this runs right into the third open period of the month, with Las Vegas hosting three separate grassroots events.

And with the number of coaches due to show up in Las Vegas, this helps with the process of finding speakers for the event. Among those currently scheduled to speak are Chattanooga head coach Will Wade, Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, Arizona assistant Joe Pasternack and Georgetown assistant Kevin Sutton.

“We are a grassroots organization that wants to focus on two things,” Farrell told NBC Sports. “First, develop lifelong friendships in the profession through networking and brainstorming of ideas. Second, we want to learn how to be assistant coaches and head coaches from some of the highest level coaches in the game.

“These coaches will also share insights on how to do our current jobs better, how to continue to serve the game of basketball the right way, and how to better ourselves as future coaches.”

And for the second year in a row the Rising Athletic Directors conference will run in conjunction with Rising Coaches Elite, allowing young coaches and administrators to not only learn from those experienced in their respective fields but also network with each other as they look to climb through the ranks.

“Over the past 4 years, we have been able to connect coaches from all over the country with one another, that have led to a variety of positive experiences,” noted Farrell. “Some attendees have gotten jobs directly from meeting speakers, some attendees have been able to get reccommended for jobs from their peers they’ve met, and other have been able to use this conference as a platform to grow their network to learn the game at a higher level and enhance their own development and job responsibilities.”

Rising Coaches Elite provides aspiring coaches valuable networking, learning opportunities

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While it doesn’t receive the level of attention that areas such as recruiting and player development do when discussing college basketball during the summer, the art of networking can be vital for those who are looking to improve their professional standing within the game.

That’s a relatively easy process for the coaches, as the three five-day evaluation periods give them a chance to not only observe players but also communicate with each other. While that could be simply a matter of catching up with old acquaintances, there’s also the ability to exchange ideas on a number of topics.

But what about those support staffers, the graduate assistants, directors of basketball operations and video staffers do since they aren’t allowed to hit the road (representing a school) during this period? That’s where Rising Coaches Elite comes into play.

Created by former Clemson basketball staffers Adam Gordon (currently director of operations at Mississippi State), Andy Farrell (assistant at Longwood) and Trey Meyer (assistant at Miami University), Rising Coaches Elite will hold its fourth annual conference in Las Vegas beginning Tuesday.

To read through NBCSports.com’s series on July’s live recruiting period, click here.

And the fourth edition will also include a Rising Athletic Directors Conference, an opportunity that wasn’t available the first three years.

“After all of the Rising Coaches conferences we’d sit down and ask all the attendees during an open panel discussion what they wanted to see and what could be done better,” said Farrell in a phone interview with NBC Sports.

“A lot of people mentioned, ‘what if an athletic director came to speak with us about what they expect from our position?’ So once [the founders] broke it down some more, we thought that since we’re doing this for the young coaches what if we could reach young aspiring athletic directors too?”

Also instrumental in the process of adding a conference for those who aspire to ultimately become athletic directors was Ben Rosenfeld, who is currently the director of sport administration for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). This would ultimately lead to the formation of Rising Athletic Directors, and it can only help those involved on both sides of the process.

Aspiring coaches get to learn not only from those are coaching, but they also get to learn from athletic administrators while networking with the people who could very well determine whether or not they’re hired for a job down the line.

This year’s group will get to hear from head coaches such as Andy Enfield (USC), Kerry Keating (Santa Clara) and Pat Skerry (Towson) in addition to multiple assistants and college administrators. There’s also the ability to interact with other success stories, with Farrell being one of the many who have experienced success in their careers since participating in Rising Coaches Elite.

In addition to the current group of staffers throughout the country there are others, whether it’s your team managers or walk-ons who see little playing time, who hope to begin their coaching journey by landing a support staff position in the near future.

According to Farrell, there are a couple things an aspiring coach needs to do in order to successfully make the transition.

“First and foremost they need to let someone, a mentor, know that they’re looking,” said Farrell. “You’ve got to let your mentors know that you’re looking, because once they know then they can start using their experience, knowledge and network.

“The other thing I would suggest for them to do is work camps. Find any and every way to get to know the people you’re working the camps with and the program you’re working the camp for. Because while that may not get you a job right away, those are the connections and networking opportunities that will take you infinitely farther.”

Farrell also noted the need to continue to learn, whether it’s about the Xs and Os of the game or other areas that programs need to take care of in order to be successful. And given the number of participants who have gone on to enjoy success in their careers, it’s become evident that Rising Coaches Elite has been a positive factor in this regard.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.